Anaheim mayor calls for review of police shootings

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 24, 2012 12:32 AM
Anaheim mayor calls for review of police shootings

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - The mayor of Anaheim called on Monday for a state and federal review of a police officer's fatal shooting of an apparently unarmed man, an incident that sparked angry demonstrations in the Southern California city over the weekend.

After Saturday's shooting, a crowd of about 100 people gathered near the scene that evening and angrily confronted police. Officers fired pepper spray and a police dog attacked at least one person. Police say the dog got loose by accident.

"Like many residents, I am very, very concerned with what occurred in our city on Saturday night," Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said in a statement.

"I am asking the state Attorney General's Office and the federal U.S. Attorney's Office for assistance with a full and independent investigation of the entire situation."

In a separate incident, Anaheim officers killed a man on Sunday who is said to have opened fire on them during a chase.

This follows a political firestorm in neighboring Fullerton that made national headlines, after a homeless man, Kelly Thomas, died last year in an altercation with officers.

Fullerton City Councilman Travis Kiger, who was elected in June in a race dominated by fallout over Thomas's death, said he watched news footage of Saturday's clash between Anaheim residents and police and found it "appalling."

"It was an assault on a bunch of women and children, that's what it looked like to me," Kiger said.

In the first shooting, two officers on Saturday afternoon tried to approach three men in an alley, and the men fled, Anaheim police spokesman Sergeant Bob Dunn said. The officers followed on foot and one caught up to one suspect, police said.

The officer fatally shot the man, later identified as Manuel Diaz, 35, a known gang member from the nearby city of Santa Ana, police said.

Investigators did not find that Diaz had a weapon, Dunn said. He declined to release further details on the shooting.

Following that death, demonstrators on Sunday stormed the lobby of the Anaheim police headquarters but no one was arrested, Dunn said.

Hours later on Sunday night, officers spotted a known gang member on probation in a car, he said. They tried to stop the car, and in an ensuing foot pursuit Joel Acevedo, 21, fired at the officers and they shot back and killed him, police said.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Beech)